party opened their congress to reflect on the past and chart a course for the future. welcome to nhk world "newsline." the nation of 1.3 billion have gathered to take part in a process that is both highly controlled and highly secretive. representatives of the ruling communist party have opened their congress. over the next week, they'll debate, discuss and make deals, and when it's all over, the next generation of leaders will take power. the 18th congress of the chinese communist party opened thursday at the great hall of the people in beijing. the meeting happens every five years. delegates will approve new policies and appoint new party leaders for the five years to come. nhk world's james tengan is our guide to the congress. he joins us from beijing. james? >> reporter: yes, gene, it's a brisk 7 degrees celsius here in beijing, and the city is now
abuzz that the congress is under way. signs and banners bearing slogans are everywhere. some read "cheers to the great chinese communist party," for without the communist party, there would be no new china. this is a major political event, and authorities carefully orchestrate every detail. i went for a tour of beijing to see what they've done. signs of the congress are everywhere in beijing. flowers, elegant decorations and banners. when i got into a taxi, i found another sign. ahead of the party congress, local authorities here in beijing have instructed all taxis to take the handles off so that people can't open the windows. chinese authorities are trying to prevent activists from throwing antigovernment leaflets out of the windows of moving
taxis. police in beijing have put strict traffic checks in place for vehicles entering the capital. government authorities have mobilized an army of volunteers to help with security. they say 1.4 million citizens are taking part in the operation. the volunteers are told to keep suspicious people out of the city center. >> translator: i volunteered to help maintain security in the city. we're here to make sure the convention runs smoothly. >> reporter: security gets more intense in the heart of beijing. police squads patrol in and around tiananmen square. people heading into the famous site face three checks, including bag searches. the party convention will be summarizing the past ten years under president hu jintao. in the elaborate building you see behind me, the communist
party is holding a retrospective exhibition. more than 2,000 photos and documents are on display. the pictures and words stress how president hu and his government struggled to make china better during the last decade of rapid economic growth. >> james, during the last decade, china has changed socially. people spread information through the internet, they question authority and complain about corruption. how would you describe the climate now that the congress is under way? >> reporter: yes, gene, there's a feeling of tension here, of authorities being on heightened alert. government officials are always on edge before, during and after the congress. their number one priority is to make sure the meeting goes off without a hitch. they want no trouble, no disruptions, nothing to take away from this important political transition. and so, they shut things down or
beef up security to keep it all running smoothly. the congress opened thursday morning in beijing's great hall of the people. it's about a ten-minute drive from our studios. i went there to watch it all unfold. china transformed into a global power during president hu's ten years at the top. it was the world's sixth largest economy. now it's the second largest. >> reporter: we asked nhk world's --
>> reporter: china has faced diplomatic and domestic challenges over the last decade under president hu jintao's leadership. >> reporter: hu promoted what he called the concept of scientific development. the policy aims to create a harr mounce society. the process required slower growth. the hu administration abolished a tax farmers had to pay based on the size of harvests.
it was part of the president's effort to narrow the economic gap between urban and rural areas. hu also worked toward a sweeping consolidation of coal mines and chemical plants, which resulted in a reduction in pollution. but the president hasn't been able to control china's income disparity or corruption among its bureaucrats, and so, public anger with the government is simmering. migrant workers in cities and students looking for work are among those who are upset. >> translator: it's so difficult to find a job. >> reporter: hu also faced dissatisfaction ethnic minorities have with the government.
the riots in 2008 and 2009. on the international front, china under hu used remarkable economic growth to boost its influence. the company hosted the beijing olympics in 2008 and the shanghai expo in 2010. years of economic growth paid off that year. china surpassed japan in gross domestic product to become the world's second largest economy behind the u.s. the chinese government with its growing military started to flex its muscles in the region. it wrangled with asian nations over control of islands in the south china sea and east china sea.
>> reporter: the congress opened thursday morning in beijing's great hall of the people. it's about a ten-minute drive from our studios. i went there to watch it unfold. 2,300 delegates from across the country gathered inside the great hall of the people. >> reporter: president hu jintao is now in the midst of giving a work report on past achievements and future goals. >> translator: the communist party has united all ethnic groups across the country and led the people. we have also transformed the old, underdeveloped china into a new china that is prospering every day, but we have to realize there is room for improvement in our work. the unbalance of development and the lack of sustainability are still evident. there are many obstacles -- the
disparity between urban and rural areas is wide, the gap in income distribution remains large, and corruption is still a problem. >> reporter: hu spoke for about 90 minutes. he laid out an economic challenge for china. >> translator: let's work together to double the gross domestic product and the average income and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020 compared to how things were in 2010. >> reporter: hu took over as the communist party's general secretary in 2002. he is set to lead the top post when the congress ends next wednesday, and vice president xi jinping is set to take over.
and joining us now is michitaka. you were with me in the great haf hall of the people as president hu was giving his final speech as communist party general secretary. what do you make of his words? >> the most notable part of the speech was when president hu spoke about the concept he supported. he wants to make a scientific argument of development, one of the communist party's guiding principles. it calls for review of the party's economic policy and aims to incorporate sustainable development, which takes into account social welfare and environment, making this concept a guiding principle would be part of hu's legacy. it would give him the same status as leaders past, inclu including dan xioping, and it
would help him maintain influence within the party after he steps down. he also admitted during his speech china's gap is wide and widening, and he said the communist party would continue its effort to fight corruption. >> translator: all those who violate party discipline and state laws, whoever they are and whatever power or official positions they have must brought to justice without mercy. >> reporter: in some ways, president hu spoke directly to citizens who are fed up with corruption. the party is trying to keep a lead of government movements by addressing public frustration. >> michitaka, what kind of changes are we going to see with the community party's political bureau and its inner leadership, the politburo's standing committee? >> reporter: right. after the congress closes next
wednesday, president hu would hand over the post of general secretary to vice president xi jinping, for a younger generation. this time around, they have one difference from the past -- there is no so-called strongman pulling the strings. president hu and his predecessor were discovered and backed by dan xioping, so their appointment to the party post were a matter of certainty. xi, however, did not have such a supporter. he rose to the top among a variety of interparty forces. that would make it all the more difficult to choose a new party leadership to support xi, because those forces have conflicting agendas. many names have been marched as possible members of the standing committee. several analysts believe several
members would be chosen to govern china's population of 1.3 billion and steer the country into the future, but the discussions of the power plays are still going, so we'll keep watching for any details of this secretive process. >> thank you, michitaka. and we'll be following this process every step of the way over the next week. we'll guide you through the issues related to the communist party's congress and china's transition of power. on friday, we'll find out a little more about the men who become the country's top two leaders, who they are and how they got to where they are. so, stay with "newsline." i'm james tengan in beijing. cradle of culture, economic powerhouse.
many enjoy the fruits of prosperity along the path to a new china, but millions are missing out. at a time growing public discontent, members of the communist party are choosing their new leaders. "newsline" correspondents are reporting from the party's national congress. don't miss our special coverage, "china: the next generation," 8:00 p.m. japan time here on "newsline." trade friction between the eu and china is mounting over alleged unlawful business practices in solar panels. the eu says the chinese government subsidies for its solar industry are giving it an unfair advantage. the european commission has launched an investigation into the practices. the probe was prompted by a complaint filed in september by an eu solar industry association. the commission says it has gathered enough evidence to support the association's case. separately, the commission has been conducting an antidumping
investigation on solar panel imports from china. china, for its part, has filed a similar complaint against the eu with the world trade organization on tuesday. the country is making a similar accusation about unfair subsidies for eu products. now let's take a look at the markets. european share prices are trading on the back of a grim economic forecast for the eurozone. here's a look at the london ftse index, currently up by 0.25%. frankfurt's dax index also gaining by 0.5%, and the cac 40 in paris gaining 0.4%. earlier, asian stock prices were mostly lower on thursday following an overnight tumble in the u.s. sentiment was weighed down heavily as investors anticipate a fiscal cliff in the u.s. tokyo's nikkei average ended 1.5% lower, extending losses to four days. south korea's kospi lost 1.1%. hong kong shares were down 2.4%.
looking at currencies, the yen is keeping a firm tone against the dollar and euro. traders are buying safer currencies like the yen due to a cautious outlook for the global economy. the dollar/yen right now 79.81 po 85. the dollar is also lower against the yen, currently 101.75 to 75. many market players are on the sidelines ahead of a european bank central policy meeting later today. some key japanese economic indicators came out on thursday. they all show signs of a slowdown in business activities. the current account surplus for september shrank for first time in two months. this is a broad measure of foreign trade. finance ministry officials say the account surplus stood at $6.3 billion. that's down about 70% in yen terms compared to a year ago. the slide was mainly due to a trade deficit in september. sharp falls in exports to the eu and china are higher. energy imports dragged down by
the trade balance. the deficit came to about $6 billion. exports amounted to about $64 billion. that's down 10.5%. imports were up 4.5% to $70 billion. the cabinet office officials say workers have become more pessimistic about their businesses. the sentiment index for october dropped for the third straight month. it fell 2.2 points to 39 points. the officials attribute the drop to tense relations with china and the subsequent decline of chinese tourists and japanese exports to china. also taking a toll was a slowdown in auto sales after the end of government subsidies for buyers of eco-friendly cars. the number of corporate bankruptcies in october went up for a second straight month. a private research firm says 961 companies went under with debts of more than 10 million yen. that's up 6% compared to a year ago. the researcher says the worsening performance at leading tv and mobile phone-makers led
to the failure of smaller enterprises that do business with them. soaring fuel prices also caused some trucking firms to go under. business leaders from japan and the united states are now gathering at an annual conference in tokyo. one japanese executive expressed strong concerns about the global economic outlook. at the start of the 49th conference that opened on thursday, the chairman of the japan business federation, he hiromasa yonekura, spoke before the audience. >> economies are struggling to find their way back to sustainable growth while grappling with so indebt problems. >> yonekura noted that the economies of china and other emerging nations are slowing down. they had up to now made a key contribution toward global growth. during the two-day meet 'the delegates will discuss various issues. they include energy and financial problems as well as the multilateral free trade talks under the trans-pacific
partnership agreement. they will compile a joint statement on friday. here's more of the latest market figures. opposition troops in syria are setting their sights on key targets in the capital damascus. rebels say they fired mortars at president bashar al assad's palace. [ shots ] state-run media contradicted the rebels' account and said opposition troops fired on residential areas in what it called a terrorist attack.
it said at least three people were killed. a day earlier, rebels set off a car bomb near the presidential palace. at least 11 people, including pro-government militiamen, died. opposition forces are reportedly bringing in fighters from other parts of syria to focus on damascus. human rights activists say fighting around the country killed more than 200 people on tuesday alone. the american maker of an anti-islamic film has been sentenced to one year in prison for violating the terms of his probation on a separate charge. the film sparked outrage throughout the muslim world. a u.s. court on wednesday handed down a ruling on the 55-year-old california resident. the man was on probation after being convicted of bank fraud but was again detained in september on suspicion of using false identities and breeaching the terms of his release. he was behind the production of a film that muslims said
insulted the prophet muhammad. a posting of the film angered muslims around the world. the pakistani cabinet minister has placed a $100,000 bounty on the filmmaker, and some are expressing concern that the man could be harmed by those angered by the video. conventional arms are well known for causing far more real harm than weapons of mass destruction, but there is still no accepted international treaty to restrict the trade in items such as guns and tanks. that's why the united nations decided on wednesday to resume negotiations next march into finally regulating the global arms trade. the previous round of talks broke down in july due to disagreements over which categories of weapons would be covered. japan and other supporters of the current draft treaty argue that conventional arms produce more casualties than weapons of mass destruction. they're aiming to get the regulations approved during the upcoming negotiations. many people living in the northeastern united states are
saying not again. an early dose of winter weather has walloped their region just as it's recovering from the impact of last week's monster storm sandy. this latest storm brought snow, rain and wild winds, making streets and sidewalks slick and making getting around slow. the weather forced airlines to cancel more than 600 flights in and out of the northeast. >> the national weather service warns that there could be some major flooding in spots already eroded by sandy. >> new york mayor michael bloomberg says the storm would not be a big problem under normal circumstances, but sandy damaged coastal areas, so he called on residents there to evacuate as a precaution. it's making life even more difficult for thousands of people. sandy killed more than 40 people in new york city alone. it triggered flooding and power outages. 30,000 households in the city are still without electricity.
all of this may be easing. meteorologist robert speta has more on that. robert? >> that's right. actually, across new york, you know, people are waking up here to some clearing skies as that nor'easter continues to rush off there to the northeast, but already seeing that snowfall, these gusty winds near the coastline, actually in man tuckett and massachusetts. you saw a report of 84-kilometer-per-hour winds. great news, everything is easing off. unfortunately for portions of new england, as the system continues to push off, you could still be seeing 10 to 30 centimeters of additional snow out heerks and it's that wet type of snow, so driving in and around the northeast throughout the next several days, until all that mets or clears off, technician going to be rather slippery and dangerous at time, so slow down on the roads. but let's look at the other side of the country. we have another storm system in and around idaho, montana. this one's just as potent. actually, upwards of about 20 to 30 centimeters is going to be seen across this area and in some isolated locations in the mountain passes, nearly 90 centimeters. that's almost a meter of snow
that's going to be expected over the next several days in and across this region. if you're a skier, you definitely will be enjoying it, but for the general population, it's going to be some dangerous weather accompanied by nearly 72-kilometer-per-hour winds creating that windchill, so frostbite will be a major factor. talking about cold temperatures, see all the areas in blue diving towards the south? those are freezing temperatures. winnipeg, a high of 2 on your thursday, denver is going to be getting up to 19, and as we look off towards the northeast behind that nor'easter, new york only getting into the single digits as we go throughout thursday. let's take a look over towards europe, though, into the uk. we're watching a low pressure area push through. that's going to bring some rain showers across the northern portions of the uk first and then moving down to the south, all across the british isles, as that system starts to move in, especially on friday. it's going to be a wet one here. meanwhile, into portugal and spain, a low pressure area's been lingering here for several days now, and over the course of several days, as that rain continues to pile on, that ground becomes saturated, thus, flooding is going to be high risk and even mud slides in and
across that area. similar conditions expected into turkey due to a very potent and strong storm system moving through there. now, eastern europe, you're going to be seeing some single-digit temperatures, stockholm only getting up to 1 here for your high. while into the west, a pair of 12s there for london and paris going through your thursday. let's take a look at eastern asia, though. we're watching a storm system develop here in china. that's pushing off towards the east, expected to bring some rain showers actually to korea on saturday and eventually into sunday across japan, as this continues to develop and pushes off. meanwhile, we also have a winter storm system coming out of mongolia. that's going to bring some near freezing temperatures into beijing, accompanied by some blowing snow, possibly in and across this area. you could be seeing blizzard-like conditions across northern portions of china, but good news, at least for the next several days in japan, some fair weather is expected. actually, in hokkaido, we've been watching the storm system. that's slowly starting to taper off, even into northern japan, also have this rough weather. i want to show you a video coming out of sendai here after
some of these storms. that's one of these beautiful pieces of nature here. we had a rainbow coming across the sky. remember, sendai is one of those areas that was hit significantly by last year's tsunami, so i'm sure this was a welcome sign of relief after the storms today. but let's take a look at the temperatures across asia here, including tokyo, getting up into the high teens on our friday. look over towards the west, though, beijing with a high of 11. in ulan bator, not getting up to the freezing mark, minus 3 will be your high to start off your weekend. let's take a look at your extended forecast.